Arkansas law enforcement agencies will increase sobriety checkpoints and patrols as part of a two-week crackdown on drunken driving and speeding that will begin Saturday, the Arkansas State Police said Monday.

The enforcement operation and a concurrent media campaign encouraging the public to drive sober — or designate a sober driver — and obey posted speed limits are timed to coincide with the July 4 holiday travel period.

"The Fourth of July has proven to be one of the deadliest holidays on Arkansas highways and in many instances, drunk driving has been the cause of these deaths," Arkansas State Police Director Col. Stan Witt stated in a news release.

"We want everyone to drive sober and obey the posted speed limit. That’s why we’re focusing on the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ and ‘Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine’ campaigns during this holiday period," Witt said.

The agency said there were 552 traffic fatalities on Arkansas roadways during 2012. Twenty-six percent, or 143, of those fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. Speeding was a contributing factor in 76 of the fatalities, or almost 14 percent.

The effort is supported with federal traffic safety funding administered by the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office.

— Arkansas News Bureau